Võ Nguyên Giáp

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Vo Nguyen Giap (Vietnamese: Võ Nguyên Giáp) (born August 25, 1911[2]) is a retired Vietnamese officer in the Vietnam People's Army and a politician. He was a principal commander in two wars: First Indochina War (1946–1954) and Vietnam War (1960–1975). He participated in the following historically significant battles: Lang Son (1950); Hoa Binh (1951–1952); Dien Bien Phu (1954); the Tet Offensive (1968); the Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive) (1972); and the final Ho Chi Minh Campaign (1975). He was also a journalist, an interior minister in President Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh government, the military commander of the Viet Minh, the commander of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), and defense minister. He also served as Politburo member of the Lao Dong Party.

He was the most prominent military commander besides Ho Chi Minh during the war and was responsible for major operations and leadership until the war ended.


Early life

Võ Nguyên Giáp was born in the village of An Xa, Quảng Bình province. His father and mother, Vo Quang Nghiem and Nguyen Thi Kien, worked the land, rented some to neighbors, and lived a relatively comfortable lifestyle. At 14, Giáp became a messenger for the Haiphong Power Company and shortly thereafter joined the Tân Việt Cách Mạng Đảng, a romantically styled revolutionary youth group. Two years later he entered Quốc Học (also known in English as the National Academy), a French-run lycée in Huế, from which two years later, according to his own account, he was expelled for organizing a student strike. Although he has denied it, Giáp is said to have also spent a few years in the prestigious Hanoian lycée Albert Sarraut where the local elite was educated to serve the colonial regime. He was apparently in the same class as Phạm Văn Đồng, future Prime Minister, who also has also denied studying at Albert Sarraut, and Bảo Đại, the last emperor of Annam. In 1933, at the age of 22, Giáp enrolled in Hanoi University.

Giáp was educated at the University of Hanoi where he gained a bachelor's degree in politics economics and law. After graduation, he taught history for one year at the Thăng Long School in Hanoi. Throughout most of 1930s, Giáp remained a schoolteacher and a journalist, writing articles for Tien Dang while actively participating in various revolutionary movements. He joined the Communist Party in 1931 and took part in several demonstrations against French rule in Indochina as well as assisting in founding the Democratic Front in 1933. All the while, Giap was a dedicated reader of military history and philosophy, revering Napoleon I and Sun Tzu. Võ Nguyên Giáp was arrested in 1930 and served 13 months of a two-year sentence at Lao Bao Prison. During the Popular Front years in France, he founded Hon Tre Tap Moi, an underground socialist newspaper. He also founded the French language paper Le Travail (on which Phạm Văn Đồng also worked). In 1939 he married Nguyen Thi Quang Thai, another socialist. She bore him a daughter, Hong Anh.[3] When France outlawed communism during the same year, Giáp fled to China together with Phạm Văn Đồng where he joined up with Hồ Chí Minh, the leader of the Vietnam Independence League (Việt Minh). While he was in exile, his wife, sister, father and sister-in-law were arrested, tortured and later executed by the French colonial authorities. His daughter is also believed to have perished in prison due to neglect.

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